Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Should Satan continue the god of this world from the beginning to the end of time, leading whole nations captive at his will, surely he will seem to have cause to triumph. But the head of satan must be bruised; his plots must be crushed. Are all mankind to be saved? Certainly not. That would be giving.the lie to numerous declarations of eternal Truth; it would be throwing away the Bible at once. And if the Bible be thrown away, it would be impossible to prove the salvation of any. But there is no doubt that by far the greater part of mankind will be saved. This appears necessary, in order that the serpent's head may be bruised. I am strongly inclined to the opinion of Dr. Hopkins, that of the whole human race, thousands will be saved for one that is lost."

We are happy to see from such respectable authors, that thousands are to be saved to one that is lost; and that if the greater part of the human race are to be lost, satan's head would not be bruised, but that he would have cause to triumph. If so many must be saved as stated in this quotation, to avoid these consequences, we would suggest it for the consideration of all, as well as that of the worthy author, whether satan's head could be bruised, or he destroyed, and whether he would not have cause of triumph if one individual of the human race was lost. If but one was left in his power, to be tormented by him forever, how could his head be bruised, and would he not triumph in this small conquest, as well as over one in a thousand? We do not see how the number could materially alter the case. We seriously think that if the number to be saved be so great in proportion to those lost, we would do well to consider if all mankind may not be saved, and that we may believe this without throwing away our Bibles. On this quotation, we cannot help remarking how different the sentiments contained in it are, to what was considered

1

true orthodoxy in former ages. In those days, it would have been considered throwing away the Bible, to say that thousands will be saved for one lost, just as much as saying in these, that all will be saved. If Christ comes so near saving the whole human race, in the name of humanity why not let his triumph be complete; why strain at the gnat and swallow the camel? God also promised to Abraham, that in his seed, which was Christ, all the families of the earth should be blessed. But if the doctrine of endless misery be true, and a great part of mankind are decreed to such a punishment, how can this promise of God be fulfilled? Let any one go over the promises and predictions of the Old Testament, two of which I have merely adduced as a specimen, and then candidly say, if he finds them in unison with the limited views of salvation which most men entertain. It would be as endless, as useless for me to dwell on this topic.

But let us view the two doctrines in regard to the threatenings of God. The doctrine of eternal misery supposes that God threatened Adam, that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit he should die, and that death threatened is said to be death temporal, spiritual, and eternal. This eternal death is said to be endless misery in hell. Hell torment, then, was threatened before sin existed, or before the promise of a Saviour was given. But is this a correct understanding of the death threatened Adam? The falsehood of it is evident from one fact, that Adam, Noah, Abraham, and all the Old Testament believers did not so understand it. If they had, would they not have taught it to mankind?

But let us also view the two doctrines, in regard to the attributes or character of God. It has been said, that my views are very dishonourable to God's character. His justice, his holiness, and truth are dishon

oured if there be no endless punishment for all the wicked. But if my views dishonour God's justice, holiness and truth, what comes of his mercy and goodness, if the opposite doctrine be true? We have to be sure seen attempts made by some metaphysical writers, to reconcile eternal misery with the mercy and goodness of God, but in vain. All they have said, is only enveloping the subject in a mist, or throwing dust in people's eyes to blind them on this subject. It is reported of the late Dr. Osgood, that when he was asked the question, "how he reconciled the doctrine of eternal misery with the character of God as a God of mercy and goodness;" he lifted both his hands, and said, "if any man is able to do this I cannot do it." Whether God is more glorified in men's damnation or in their salvation, I need not discuss. One thing is certain; that those called orthodox writers in the present day are fully aware, that if God did not ultimately save the greatest part of mankind, God's character would be dishonoured. If this was not the case who could deny that the devil was more honoured than God? Mr. Emerson, aware of this, agrees with another celebrated divine, that those saved at last, will exceed those that are lost by a large majority. I am truly glad to see men of such good characters and intelligence so much concerned for God's honour and glory in this respect; and I hope the time is not very distant when they may think God most honoured and glorified by saving the whole human race. It is a very evident case, that those

writers do not hesitate to dissent from ancient orthodoxy. Had they written so in some former ages, they would have suffered death, in some of its most terrific forms for their temerity. At any rate, I am not a greater heretic now, than they would have been then.

2d, How does the views advanced and their opposite affect the Scriptures of Truth? I think it will not be denied, that my views of all the passages in which Gehenna occurs, are explained consistently with themselves, and their respective contexts. That so far from the contexts being at variance with the texts they direct to the explanations given. When a man perverts the Scriptures, he does it in the face of facts, and shutting his eyes against the context and Scripture usage of words, indulges his own imagination. But here the reverse is the case. The context points out the sense I have given Gehenna; Scripture usage comes in aid; nor is any thing taken for granted, or imagination indulged. But that Gehenna is a place of future misery, is assumed, and asserted without proof, and when the context and Scripture usage are consulted for evidence, all they afford is on the opposite side.

3d, Let us see how the two doctrines affect the various religious sects in the world. Allowing that this doctrine was universally the faith of all parties, discord must cease, and Christians would embrace each other as children of the same father, and heirs of the same inheritance. It would lead all sects to treat cach other very differently from what they have done. But how does the opposite doctrine operate among them? Hell being a place of endless misery, Christians have been for ages consigning each other over to its punishment, and that often for conscientious differences of religious opinions.

4th, Let us now consider how my views and their opposite affect the diffusion of the gospel in the world. Say some, "if your views are correct, why trouble ourselves, or be at such an expense to send the gospel to the heathen?" The principal object in sending missionaries to the heathen in our day, seems to

be to save them from hell. If this be the object of sending them, we think they may abide at home; for certainly they are running on an errand to them, on which the apostles were never sent. Those who wish to see what they proposed, yea, accomplished, by preaching to the heathen, may consult the Acts of the apostles, and all the epistles. Because there is no eternal torment from which to save them, shall we not impart to them the knowledge and hope of eternal life? Unless we can terrify them with preaching hell, shall we let them live and die ignorant about heaven! In short, because we cannot save them from a place where they shall dishonour God and be punished by him forever, shall we not save them from dishonouring his name and from punishment in the present world? Unless we have the honour of saving the heathen from everlasting punishment in hell, it seems we do not think it worthy of our notice to do them any good. I pity the man who can think, and feel, and reason at such a rate. Supposing the happiness of heaven and the torment of hell out of the question, and that the heathen world were as ignorant of science, agriculture and the arts of life, as they are of spiritual things, how ought we to think, and feel, and reason on this subject? Deists and Atheists in this case would put Christians to the blush, if they would do them no service, because they had no hell torments to save them from. My views of hell so far from abating Christian zeal, only gives it a right direction. The zeal manifested in the present day in behalf of the heathen is highly to be commended, and nothing prevents its being more generally approved, but the object towards which it is directed. It is zeal, but we think it is not according to the knowledge of Scripture. If an intelligent heathen were to ask a modern missionary, after hearing him preach hell torments, the following questions, what could he answer?-Do

« AnteriorContinuar »